Definition of Success

Success! Mitch stood up on his surfboard at my favourite place. Hellfire Bay at Cape Le Grand National Park, near Esperance in Western Australia

Our oldest son Mitch is in grade 5 and a conversation I’m hearing over and over lately is “where are you sending your kids after primary school?” For us, it’s a no-brainer. Our kids will go to the local high school they’re zoned to. To fork out at least $50,000 a year (after tax) for two kids to attend private school would mean me getting a full time job and robbing a bank just to pay the school fees. Who would be there for the kids while I’m out of the house at 7.30am to travel to work and back at 6pm (or in jail)? Not to mention the cost of uniforms, books, school camps, etc. But lately Mitch has been telling us he’d like to go to a certain private school. He’s 10 years old and he’s already feeling that perceived pressure to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’. Unfortunately it’s a by-product of the area we live in. This is not to diss people whose kids go to private schools. I think, and I don’t know for sure, that people send their kids to private schools because they believe they’ll get a better education and the facilities, teachers, curriculum, etc, are better than a government school. The figures published on the MySchool website and the things we read in the paper would probably back that up. But for $25,000 a pop, they’d want to be. The decision not to put ourselves under financial pressure is not because we don’t care about our kids or want to provide for them, but doesn’t your drive; the quest to succeed in whatever you do, come from within?

An example of someone with an inner drive is my friend’s husband, Dean Coates. Dean is one of the most financially successful people I know. He now owns a multi-million dollar business he built from scratch and is home by 6pm to be with his wife and child. He took me on a tour of his factory last week and the pride in his voice while showing me around was obvious. Not bad for a Hallam High kid.

My client, Kate James of Total Balance Group and The Change Project, has seen tonnes of senior level corporate clients over the ten years she’s been coaching. Kate often hears these (mainly) men saying they wish they’d done a carpentry or cabinet making apprenticeship (so doing something with their hands) and how they wish they didn’t have to spend countless hours in the office. Yet to others, I’m sure these men come across as extremely successful but they just don’t want to be there.

But success for some doesn’t look like success for others. This is what it looks like for me all round: Being there for the kids, spending time with my friends, volunteering for PANDA, being a good PA for my clients, continually learning and understanding what makes people tick, cooking a meal without completely stuffing it up, actually getting the kids to school on time with clean undies on – me and them… And a successful partnership for Anth and I means: Both of us being around for the kids, sharing the cooking/cleaning, picking up the slack if one is unwell or busy with work, etc. That stuff. As Anth says “we’re a team Lisa”. Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the things that don’t define success for me (or aren’t in line with my values) so I stop and kick myself.

We all judge. I have no doubt people look at my ten year old Camry and our granny pad and think we’re not successful and to some we’re probably not. That’s okay. Everyone has their reasons for what they do but I’ve worked out very clearly what my definition of success is and living in a way that we ‘feel’ is right. This is the path we’ve decided to take.

So, what’s your definition of success?

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8 Responses to Definition of Success

  1. Jen Tancheff says:

    I agree Lisa, well said, “It comes from within.”

  2. Fiona Gathercole says:

    Nice one lis , success to me is a happy healthy family at the end of each day. Doesn’t matter what school you go to it just matters where you come from and what values you have learnt.

    • Lisa says:

      So true Fi. I know I try hard to make sure we have a happy family and I look forward to seeing what values my kids do hold dear to themselves given I’m so strong about mine!

  3. Liz says:

    Lis you will be pleased to know that OECD figures show that once you account for socio-economic status there is actually no difference between outcomes in the govt and non-govt sector. Bright, motivated kids whose parents are engaged in their child’s education do well in any setting.

    • Lisa says:

      That’s interesting Liz. Definitely the parental engagement is so important. Hope that doesn’t mean understanding their homework in the latter parts of high school!!

  4. Mel says:

    I agree with the above… If your child shows interest in schooling and there up bringing from there parents and peers are healthy and guided properly I believe your child or children can have any opportunity of success. Look at Tony Kendall or Pete Ornsby, they have both succeeded in there careers and they both attended Beaui High!!

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